I recently attended a wonderful destination wedding in Montego Bay, Jamaica. The wedding was held at the #Iberostar Rose Hall Suites, which is one of three resorts on property along with the Rose Hall Beach and Rose Hall Grand. Another friend recently visited an all-inclusive resort in Mexico over NYE weekend and based on their experience, I decided to pay a little more attention to the differences, benefits and features of this resort and the overall travel experience. I also gathered feedback from others who were at the wedding but staying at different resorts. Here are a few tips:
1. Airport transfers require patience and logic.
It seemed that everyone had a similar experience with their airport transfers. Even though we booked through a variety of tour companies, everyone seemed to experience a 15 minute to as long as 1 hour or so delay waiting in the bus/van for other guests. One group thought the driver was waiting for other guests, but after an hour and no new guests, apparently he was just waiting for approval to go. Many of us had the van/bus stop at one or more other resorts before they dropped us at our hotel. Some drivers were quiet, some were talkative and gave a little island history in route and some were bullies who tried to demand a tip upon arrival. At the end of the day, the length of time you wait and attitude of your driver is a crap shoot. Just cross your fingers, speak up if you are waiting too long and don’t feel obligated to tip anyone who didn’t work for it.
2. Check in time is almost always 3pm, so come prepared.
If your flight arrives in the morning I always recommend that you pack a swim suit and change of clothes in your carry on. That way, if your room is not ready for early check in, you can just change and sit by the pool and/or beach. This will help you relax and immediately begin enjoying your vacation.
3. Room issues require immediate action.
Once you check in to your room, if you notice problems…A/C doesn’t work, bad smell, etc be sure to speak up immediately. Also, depending on the issue, don’t fully unpack as it may require a room change. Call the front desk to request the situation be resolved. If it is not resolved before the end of the evening, request a room change. I’ve stayed at a variety of hotels, including 5 diamond properties and every hotel can have issues with a room or two. Don’t judge the whole resort based on a problem with one room, but make sure the staff addresses the problem.
4. Stroll around the resort early in your trip.
Many all-inclusive resorts have a lot of features that require a little exploration to find. If you are staying at a resort for 4, 5 days, or more you should walk around and get the lay of the land. Find all the restaurants, tennis courts, and the details on the included non-motorized water sports. We had tennis courts at our resort, but didn’t notice them until the day we were leaving. Also, many resorts have restaurants that require reservations. Be sure to read http://www.tripadvisor.com and the hotel website to find out when you have to book those reservations and if you can book multiple nights in a row. Some hotels require that you book restaurant reservations each day during a certain time frame. While we were staying at the Iberostar Rose Hall Suites we walked the beach to compare our pool area to the space at the Rose Hall Grand and the Rose Hall Beach. In my opinion, the pool area at the Suites with the infinity pool is the best, thus the reason they use that image to market all three resorts. However, the differences in quality of set up are small; for example the beach chairs at the Beach are plastic, but the beach chairs at the Suites are wicker and at the Grand a higher quality of wicker chairs. There is more shaded area available in the Suites pool area. The rooms at the Beach are the size of a standard hotel room, but the Suites are larger because they are “suites” with a step down sitting area that includes a couch and desk. The size of balconies look comparable from all three resorts, depending on where your room is located. Just remember, if you paid to stay at the higher valued resort, take the time to see the other properties and maybe make dinner reservations at those properties for a change of pace.
5. Determine your hotel benefits in advance.
At Iberostar, if you are staying at the Grand you can play at all three resorts, if you are at the Suites you can visit the Beach and if you stay at the Rose Hall Beach you have to stay within that resort, except for the night club at the Suites, all three resorts access that night club. Many large resorts have a “stay at one, play at all” concept, but each have different rules. We didn’t realize that we couldn’t access the Grand until we were conducting our “lay of the land” research. That’s when we discovered you could play down, but not up. I’m glad we booked in the hotel where the wedding was held, or we would have had to go back to our property after the wedding activities.
6. Have fun!
This is vacation, step out of your norm and let your hair down. Talk to strangers, you can make some nice vacation friends when staying for multiple days. Join in the activities and dance at the club. You can’t embarrass yourself, after all they are strangers! Plus who knows, you may inspire someone else to do the same.
So, this is my non-official endorsement of Iberostar Rose Hall Suites for your next vacation or destination wedding in #Montego Bay, #Jamaica. Great location, great service and very clean. I can’t wait to go back.